Statement on the UEFA Europa Conference League game on September 30.09.2021th, 1 between XNUMX. FC Union Berlin and Maccabi Haifa
The UEFA Europa Conference League game on September 30, 2021 between 1. FC Union Berlin and Maccabi Haifa was the first game played by an Israeli football club in the Berlin Olympic Stadium, which was built by the Nazis in 1936.
The game was overshadowed by a multitude of anti-Semitic incidents directed against the visiting Israeli fans and a group from the Berlin Young Forum of the German-Israeli Society (DIG). This resulted in anti-Semitic abuse and allusions to the planned murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust. In addition, some fans of 1. FC Union Berlin attempted to light an Israeli flag.
After the incidents became known, 1. FC Union Berlin reacted promptly and promised an immediate and consistent clarification of the events. In the aftermath of the football game, further anti-Jewish incidents in connection with the football game were reported to the Antisemitism Research and Information Center (RIAS).
Although there was the high number of anti-Semitic insults mentioned, the reaction of some Union fans must be positively emphasized. In addition to the anti-Semitic attackers, there were also those among the Union fans who showed civil courage and spoke out clearly against the anti-Semitic attacks on site and on social media. Union President Dirk Zingler sharply condemned the events and announced consequences, such as a club exclusion procedure against one of the identified perpetrators.
On Friday, October 29.10.2021, 1, UEFA publicly announced the sanctions against XNUMX. FC Union Berlin: At the next home game against Feyernoord Rotterdam, some of the spectators are to be excluded from the game. The club is also obliged to hang up a UEFA banner with the inscription "NoToRacism".
The choice of this punishment is well intentioned, but misses the target: With the closure of the stage and the exclusion of a large number of fans, large parts of the Union supporters are prejudiced for the anti-Semitic outbursts of individual perpetrators and taken into collective custody. In addition, the intervention of those fans who have clearly positioned themselves against the anti-Semitic attacks is made invisible. This form of sanctioning is therefore not proportionate. Anti-Semitism should always be sanctioned and the perpetrators punished. However, this does not require a generalization of the entire fan scene.
Likewise, UEFA's requirement to hoist a banner that reads "Notoracism" does not do justice to the problem of anti-Semitism. Whenever anti-Semitism occurs, it must be consistently called by its name, recorded and combated. Subsuming anti-Semitism under racism or “group-focused enmity” is dangerous and falls behind the current state of anti-Semitism research. Anti-Semitism is more than resentment. The complexity and specificity of its manifestations and functional mechanisms must be recognized. This is shown not least by the different articulations and practices (Israel-related anti-Semitism, open anti-Semitism, relativization of the Holocaust) during the game on September 30, 2021.
Instead of collective penalties, we demand:
• Preventive and sustainable measures against anti-Semitism in football and beyond
• Long-term planning security for educational work and fan projects against anti-Semitism
• The implementation and practical application of the definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in the associations
• Further training for coaches, players, supervisors and the club's security companies